Defence counsel


Who can act as defence counsel and how can the accused procure himself of a defence counsel?
Most often, the defence counsel is a lawyer.
Every accused, and in the later stages every defendant, has the right to choose a defence counsel.
On principle, the offender must pay for the cost of his/her defence counsel. Should he/she lack the financial means, and if the provision of a defence counsel is in the interest of a sound administration of justice, the offender may be given a defence counsel whose costs he/she will not have to pay at all, or only in parts.

What can a defence counsel do for the accused?
The defence counsel advises and supports the accused. He/she may use every available means of defence and to submit everything that serves to defend his/her client.
The defence counsel must exercise all procedural rights to which the accused is entitled. In addition, the offender may also make statements.

Is it mandatory for a defendant to have a defence counsel?
A defendant is free to procure him/herself of a defence counsel or not.
In the following exemplary cases, representation by a defence counsel is mandatory:

  • If and as long as the offender is detained pending trial;
  • In a trial at a regional court sitting as a mixed or jury court (regardless of the sentence by which the criminal act is punishable);
  • In a single-judge trial if the crime is punishable by imprisonment of more than three years (excluding cases of burglary and handling stolen goods);
  • In appellate proceedings on the grounds of nullity or an appeal against a verdict of a mixed or jury trial.